Who Beat Up Paul Mirecki?
A dark sequel has been added to the story of the Univ. of Kansas prof who was going to teach a class ridiculing intelligent design, then canceled it when a defamatory email he wrote surfaced (see 11/29/2005 story). Now, he claims he was accosted while driving off campus early Monday morning and beaten up by two guys in a pickup truck who had been tailgating him, according to a report in the Lawrence Journal-World 12/06. The details appear sketchy, making some doubtful of the story, but his injuries were not in doubt; he was treated at the Lawrence Memorial Hospital for bruises and sore spots which he said were caused by the men punching him and hitting him with a metal object. According to Mirecki, the attackers “made references to the controversy” as their reason for the attack. The suspects have not been identified, and Mirecki himself has kept mum about the details (see Lawrence Journal-World 12/07.
Subsequently, on Wednesday, Mirecki decided to step down as chairman of the Religious Studies department, reported the Wichita Eagle. This article also mentioned the attack, but did not say if it had anything with his decision to step down. It said he acted on the recommendation of his colleagues in the department.
Let’s make one thing crystal clear up front: whoever attacked Dr. Mirecki should be punished. If you know who did this, turn them in. If you did this and are reading this, turn yourself in. (A doubtful possibility; our feedback shows our readership to be a virtuous and intelligent lot.)
Assault is a heinous crime. In a controversy like evolution vs. ID, it is also extremely counter-productive. How can someone hope for open discussion by shutting it off and resorting to violence? If this really happened the way Dr. Mirecki described it, it is completely out of bounds, and the perpetrators should be punished. Respect and reason are the only tools of effective engagement in intellectual controversies.
Still, the details seem sketchy and somewhat incoherent. There was a case of a professor in California last year who staged an incident of vandalism to her car in order to appear a victim of a hate crime. Let’s give Mirecki the benefit of the doubt. We won’t even print the links of bloggers who think Mirecki made it all up. Treat this as a story in progress and hope the whole truth comes to light. Dr. Mirecki could help the situation by giving a full report. In the meantime, we wish him well as a fellow human being, thank him for his apology, and respect his decision to step down.